Demetrios II

Founded 24-Aug-2006
Last update 20-Feb-2010

Genealogy References

Scorning, therefore, to ingratiate himself with the populace as was customary, and waxing ever more burdensome in his demands upon them, he sank into ways of despotic brutality and extravagantly lawless behaviour of every sort. Now the responsibility for his disposition lay not only in his nature, but also with the man who was set over the kingdom. For he, being an impious knave, was the author of all these evils, since he flattered the youth and prompted him to deeds of utter infamy.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 33.4

After making war ... upon the Parthians, and gaining the victory in several battles, he was suddenly surprised by an ambuscade, and, having lost his army, was taken prisoner.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.9


Ruler: Demetrios II Theos Philadelphos Nikator (“Demetrios, God loving one’s brother, the Victor”), nicknamed Seripides after his Parthian captivity,1 Seleukid King, born c. 161 BC, 1st reign 145 - 138 BC (captured by the Parthians), 2nd reign 129 - 126/5 BC, died 126/5 BC (murdered at Tyre)
Father: Demetrios I Soter, Seleukid King, born c. 186 BC (son of Seleukos IV Philopator, Seleukid King, and Laodike IV, Seleukid Queen), reigned 162 - 150 BC, died 150 BC (killed in battle against Alexander Balas)
Mother: Laodike, Seleukid Queen (daughter of Seleukos IV Philopator, Seleukid King, and Laodike IV, Seleukid Queen), married first to Perseus (King of Makedon, reigned 179 - 167 BC) sometime between 179 and 177 BC and second to her brother Demetrios I in 161/0 BC,2 died 150/149 BC (killed by Ammonios, the chief minister of Alexander Balas)3
Siblings: (1) Antiochos VII Euergetes, Seleukid King, born c. 160 BC, reigned 138 - 129 BC, died 129 BC (slain in battle with the Parthians)
  (2) Antigonos, died 150/149 BC (killed by Ammonios, the chief minister of Alexander Balas)4
Wifes: (1) Kleopatra Thea Eueteria (usually referred simply as Kleopatra Thea), Queen of the Seleukid Empire, born in or before 164 BC (daughter of Ptolemy VI Philometor, King of Egypt, and Kleopatra II, Queen of Egypt); first married to Alexander I in 150 BC (marriage dissolved by her father), second married to Demetrios II in c. 148/7 BC (as his first wife, marriage dissolved by the capture of Demetrios II by Mithridates I in 138 BC), and third married to Antiochos VII in 138/7 BC; possibly returned to the marriage with Demetrios II in 129 BC; sole reign 126/5 BC, reign in coregency with her son Antiochos VIII 126/5 - 121/0 BC, died 121/0 BC (killed by her son Antiochos VIII)
  (2) Rhodogune, daughter of Mithridates I, King of Parthia, married to Demetrios II during his Parthian captivity (138 - 129 BC)
Children: By Kleopatra Thea:
  (1) Seleukos V, Seleukid King, very short reign in 126/5 BC, died 126/5 BC (shortly after he became king, he was killed by his mother Kleopatra Thea with her own hand)5
  (2) Antiochos VIII Epiphanes Philometor Kallinikos, nicknamed Grypos, Seleukid King, born c. 142 BC, reigned 126/5 - 97/6 BC, died 97/6 BC (killed by one of his generals, Herakleon)
  (3) presumably a daughter, possibly called Laodike6
  By Rhodogune:
  at least two children (their names and sexes are not known)7


1 The nickname is also alternatively spelled Siripides. It is mentioned by Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 255-256. See Bevan, The House of Seleucus, Vol. II, pp. 305-306 (Appendix Z), for a discussion.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 255-256: In the next year, which was the third year of the 160th Olympiad (138/7 BC), he was captured by Arsaces (Arsaces VI - Mithridates I), who sent him to be held prisoner in Parthia; so he was called Nicanor (Nikator) because he had defeated Antiochus (Antiochos VI) the son of Alexander (Alexander I), and also Seripides because he was kept as a prisoner in chains.

2 Hoover, A Dedication to Aphrodite Epekoos for Demetrius I Soter and his Family

3 Livy, Periochae, 50.4: In Syria, which had until then had a king (Alexander I) who was equal to that of Macedonia in ancestry but to Prusias (Prusias II, king of Bithynia) in laziness and slowness, and who took his ease in kitchens and brothels, Hammonius (Ammonios) ruled, and he murdered all friends of the king (Demetrios I), and queen Laodice, and Demetrius’ son Antigonus.

See also Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 49 - Laodike (12), and p. 76 - Ammonios.

4 The only son of Demetrios I who fell into the hands of Alexander I Balas, the others having been evacuated in time before the father’s final defeat (see footnote 3 and Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 35.2, below). Grainger, A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer, p. 8, argues that Antigonos was Demetrios’ eldest son. According to Passehl, personal communication, certainly Demetrios II was older than Antiochos VII, but Greco-Makedonian nomenclature rules would suggest that Antigonos should be the youngest; see also the fact that Demetrios I kept Antigonos with him while his other boys (surely because the chief heirs) were sent off for safety to west Anatolia when the great coalition war against Demetrios I was begun.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 35.2: At the commencement of the war, Demetrius (Demetrios I) had entrusted two of his sons to a friend of his at Cnidus, with a large quantity of treasure, that they might be removed from the perils of the war, and might be preserved, if fortune should so order it, to avenge their father’s death.

5 Appian, Roman History, 11.69: As soon as Seleucus (Seleukos V) assumed the diadem after his father’s (Demetrios II’s) death, his mother (Kleopatra Thea) shot him dead with an arrow, either fearing lest he should avenge his father or moved by an insane hatred for everybody.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 39.1: One of his sons, Seleucus (Seleukos V), for having assumed the diadem without his mother’s (Kleopatra Thea’s) consent, was put to death by her; the other (Antiochos VIII), who, from the size of his nose was named Grypus, was made king by his mother, so far at least that the regal name should belong to him, while all the power of sovereignty was to remain with herself.

Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 257-258: Demetrius (Demetrios II) was succeeded by his son Seleucus (Seleukos V), who died soon afterwards as a result of his mother’s (Kleopatra Thea’s) accusations.

Livy, Periochae, 60.11: A description is given of the situation in Syria, in which Cleopatra (Kleopatra Thea) first killed her husband Demetrius (Demetrios II) and then her son Seleucus (Seleukos V), because she hated him. After she had killed his father, he had accepted the diadem without her permission.

6 According to Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10, she was taken to the East by Antiochos VII on his Parthian expedition and, after his defeat, she was married to Phraates II, King of Parthia. See Bennett, Egyptian Royal Genealogy: Cleopatra Thea, for a detailed discussion.

Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.10: Phraates (Phraates II) had funeral rites performed for him (Antiochos VII) as a king, and married the daughter of Demetrius (of Demetrios II), whom Antiochus had brought with him, and of whom he had become enamoured.

7 Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 38.9: Some time after, when children that were born to him (Demetrios II) had caused him to be more trusted, he again attempted flight, with the same friend as his attendant, but was overtaken, with equal ill-fortune, near the borders of his dominions, and being again brought to the king (Phraates II), was ordered out of his sight, as a person whom he could not endure to see. But being then also spared, for the sake of his wife (Rhodogune) and children, he was remanded into Hyrcania, the country of his punishment, and presented with golden dice, as a reproach for his childish levity.


Appian:Roman History, Book XI - The Syrian Wars. Translated by Horace White. Macmillan and Co., New York, 1899. (The Perseus Digital Library,;,
Bennett, Christopher J.:Egyptian Royal Genealogy. Website,
Bevan, Edwyn Robert:The House of Seleucus, 2 volumes. Ares Publishers, Chicago, 1985 (reprint of the London 1902 original edition).
Diodorus Siculus:Library of History. Books XXXIII–XL. Translated into English by Francis R. Walton. The Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge / Massachusetts - London / England, 2001 (reprint of the 1967 edition).
Eusebius of Caesarea:Chronicle (Latin Schoene ed.). Translated into English by Andrew Smith. (Attalus,
Grainger, John D.:A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer. Brill, Leiden - New York - Köln, 1997.
Hoover, Oliver D.:A Dedication to Aphrodite Epekoos for Demetrius I Soter and his Family. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 131 (2000), pp. 106-110. (See also Additions and Corrections to John D. Grainger’s A Seleukid Prosopography and Gazetteer and A Dedication to Aphrodite Epikoos on Behalf of Demetrios I Soter and His Family at Oliver D. Hoover’s website
Justin (Marcus Junianus Justinus):Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus. Translated by Rev. John Selby Watson, M.A. George Bell and Sons, London, 1897. (See Forum Romanum website, - 1853 Edition)
Livy (Titus Livius):Periochae. Translated into English by Jona Lendering. (,
Passehl, Mark K.:personal communication. (October/November 2005)